Unable to hold its annual sit-down meal known as Farm to Table this year, the San Benito County Arts Council created a modified fundraiser called Farm to Your Table. From the Farmhouse Cafe in downtown Hollister, community members—masked and physically distanced—came curbside, picked up their meals and served them at home on their own table.
“We miss seeing people and being with each other,” said Jennifer Laine, Arts Council executive director.
Laine, along with fellow Arts Council staff Heidi Jumper and Amanda Chiado, greeted take-out diners with the help of board members Shawn Novack and Rebecca Mayfield Pearson. Donors and sponsors included Coke Farms, Phil Foster Farms, Martin Ranch Winery, K&S Properties, Brent Redmond Transportation, Pinnacle Organic Farms, Morris Grassfed Beef and Mission Village Voice.
Community members who had not seen each other for a while in person stopped by and spent time together, maintaining a safe distance and speaking through masks as though this had always been the way it was done.
Paul Rovella, an Arts Council member who has kids in some of the programs, said he “came to help.” Bobbi Jo Palmer, the new owner of the Josuha Inn in Hollister who was on the board of the Gilroy Arts Alliance, said it was important to her to support the arts in San Benito County. Marian Wyatt, who attended with her husband Chuck, said the event was “wonderful.” Many diners were attending for the first time, while others had been to the sit-down dinner in years past. All said they were happy to help either way.
Behind the meals were Hollister chefs Becky Herbert of Farmhouse Cafe and Mike Fisher of Fisher’s Restaurant and Catering. Herbert said it’s important for her to work on events like this.
“I love working with the girls [Arts Council staff] and I love community gatherings,” Herbert said, adding that she misses her customers and was happy to be in the cafe working with the community.
Co-chef Fisher was not at the event, but together they cooked meals for 185 ticket holders. Those meals consisted of a Tuscan melon & heirloom tomato salad with basil and balsamic; chicken parmesan or eggplant parmesan with pesto pasta and seasonal vegetables for the main course; and lemon polenta cake with stewed seasonal fruit for dessert.
Each meal also came with a small ceramic bowl made by one of five local artists: Jane Rekedal, Kent Child, Sophie Lastra, Sylvia Rios and Marie Cloughesy.
Funds raised through the dinner will support the council’s Arts in Education program, which brings art to school throughout San Benito County.
Liking how this year’s event went, Laine said they might do the dinner the same way next year and return to a sit-down meal in 2022.
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